Why So Many French Voted for a Bigot

His electoral success reveals a country not so much racist as threatened

I should have seen it coming. A few weeks ago, I asked a French friend why Lionel Jospin, the Socialist candidate for the presidency, had such difficulty connecting with the voters. "They just don't like him," my friend shrugged, as the French do. Worthy and whiny, and with that pursed-lips seriousness that the French think characteristic of Protestants like him, Jospin proved incapable of inspiring his natural constituency.

But even given Jospin's weakness as a candidate, it was still a shock when he got fewer votes in the first round of the election than Jean-Marie Le Pen, the candidate of the...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!